17th century French Nevers faience jardiniere

Our object for the BADA Week is a rare survivor– a 17th century French Nevers faience jardiniere. One of the surprising things of interest about the piece is the scale of it. It is large. It was designed with massive handles in the form of twist-ed rope which were designed to be strong enough so that the jardiniere, planted with a small tree could be moved easily from a conservatory to the outside by pulling along the ground.
A second distinctive feature is the style of decoration. The ground is called “Bleu Persan”, in English, Persian Blue. The name describes a rich cobalt blue which was used in Persia on pottery and tiles found in mosques and palaces.

17th century French Nevers faience jardiniereThe interior and exterior both have the intense Persian blue colour while the exterior has white markings, know as “à la bougie” decoration, referencing candle-wax. Thus the appearance appears as though candlewax has been dripped on it: this style was popular in both France and England in the second half of the17th Century.
The Metropolitan Museum has a fragment of a handle, a gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917, almost identical to this jardiniere, dating it 1670-80, and a flower pot of a slightly different form, but of similar large scale, is in the collection of Burghley House.

The Met writes that Faience, or tin-glazed and enamelled earthenware, first emerged in France during the sixteenth century, reaching widespread usage among elite patrons during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, prior to the establishment of soft-paste porcelain factories. Although characterized as more provincial in style than porcelain, French faience was used at the court of Louis XIV as part of elaborate meals and displays, with large-scale vessels incorporated into the Baroque garden designs of Versailles.

17th century French Nevers faience jardiniereSo, for me this French Nevers faience jardiniere is an outstanding object. It is a rare survivor of a material that is notoriously soft and easy to break. It is grand in scale and design and we are proud to be able to pass it on to its next owner, three hundred and fifty years after it was first made.

French 17th-century Nevers 'Bleu Persan' Faience Jardiniere,
“Décor à la bougie”,
Circa 1660-80.

The circular Nevers faience jardiniere has two large thick twisted rope handles. The jardiniere with a Persian blue colour and an exterior painted à la bougie mean-ing white blotches like candle wax. The interior is a solid intense blue. The body is slightly concave and narrows to a narrow base with a flared foot. The base is unglazed and has three drainage holes.

17th century French Nevers faience jardiniereDimensions: 12 1/4 inches High x 19 1/2 inches Wide (31.12 cm high x 49.53cm wide)

Reference: La Faience de Nevers, 1585-1900, Volume 2, Jean Rosen, Page 288, Fig. 466, for a group of Persian blue wares with à la bougie decoration. To the top right is an identical jardiniere. The group of objects is dated 1660-80.

The V & A Museum has a pair of similar Persian blue jardinieres with different feet and decorations (https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1156287/jardiniere-unknown/)-ACCESSION NUMBER 372A-1870.

The white splashed blue tin-glaze is characteristic of Nevers but rarely found on a piece of this scale, which is more usually decorated in blue on a pale blue ground in a Chinese style.